If you are already making beer and wine at home, the jump to cider is simple. The equipment is exactly the same. (Spoiler Alert: it's actually easier than brewing beer!)
Sparkling, still, sweet, dry, strong, or mild - make it how you like. All you need are crisp, delicious liquid apples and 30 minutes.
The basic steps to making hard cider are as follows:
1. Find Your Juice
Store-bought apple juices make great hard cider as long as you avoid those that are stabilized. Read the label. If the juice contains sulfite, sorbate, benzoate or other chemical-sounding ingredients, it most likely will not ferment.
If you want to avoid uncertainty altogether, our hard cider recipe kits come with everything you need to make your first batch.
2. Pick Your Yeast
Your options for yeast are virtually limitless. Traditional cider yeasts like White Labs 775 English Cider and Wyeast 4766 Cider work, or you can get adventurous with Red Star Cote des Blancs; a wine yeast known for promoting fruit flavors, especially apple.
If you want to jack up the quality of your cider, consider using an instant yeast starter.
3. Play With Flavor
Want something more mingling with your apples? Toss some fresh fruit or spice into the fermenter. Cherries, raspberries, black currant or cranberries pair well, as do vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, coriander, anise or crystallized ginger.
If you prefer a sweeter sipper, back-sweeten to taste. See Brewing TV – Episode 67 for a great tutorial on back-sweetening.
4. Want it Sparkling?
Easy. Add an ounce of priming sugar per gallon during bottling, wait 2 weeks, and voila: sparkling hard cider.